"I had been underestimating myself for years" ~ An Incoming Student Reflects

Portrait of incoming naturopathic medicine student Leigh Siergiewicz

This fall, I will be starting school to become a doctor of naturopathic medicine at Bastyr University. I couldn’t possibly be more certain that this is exactly what I am here on Earth to do, but I had a really roundabout way of getting to this point. Like many college students, I didn’t feel fully committed to any career or major and wondered what I was going to do with myself after graduation. I wanted something that I could wholeheartedly devote myself to, but nothing pulled at me adequately.

When I finally landed on a major in sociology, one of the first things I did in class was watch Michael Moore’s documentary Sicko, which is about the corruption of the American health care system. I was so outraged that I knew right away that I wanted to devote my life to making our health care system better. I just had to figure out how. I’ve been told a number of times that the documentary is biased and extreme, but I think that is irrelevant because the point was to get people outraged about the unbelievably sad state of health care, and that is exactly what it did for me.

I took a few medical sociology classes in college, and the more I learned about it, the more shocked I was that we spend more than any other country on health care and still have such unhealthy people. No other social problem felt as urgent to me personally, as I was also fed up with doctors telling me I was “probably fine” when I was chronically uncomfortable.

I searched online for careers in natural health and stumbled upon naturopathic medicine. My first immediate reaction was, “That is exactly perfect for me!” Until I looked at the science prerequisites. Never mind! Keep looking! About halfway through my senior year of college, I was desperately hoping people wouldn’t ask what I was doing next. But it turned out to be one of those people who asked that gave me the "Aha!" moment I needed.

I gave my usual, “I’d like to do something with natural health, I’m just not exactly sure what.”

“Have you thought about naturopathic medicine?” he said.

“Yes, but it’s all that science. That’s not for me.”

“I think you’re smarter than you give yourself credit for.”

I was speechless! It hit me in an instant that I had been underestimating myself for years. It was all I could think about for weeks. I graduated from college and signed up for general chemistry that summer. To get all the science prerequisite classes I needed in one year, I ended up taking eight of them at six different schools! Yes, I thought it was insane while I was doing it. But I was so certain at the same time.

After seeing a naturopathic doctor (ND) as a patient, the tiniest shred of doubt I had was gone. It gave me the absolute sureness I was always seeking. Dr. Christine Doherty in Milford, New Hampshire, is such a wonderful doctor and role model. She is the first doctor who has ever truly listened to me and been genuinely helpful. I could immediately see myself in her shoes, giving people the true care and attention they deserve.

Although my path in getting here was indirect, I wouldn’t have done it any other way. Three years ago, if anyone had told me this is what I’d be doing, I wouldn’t have believed them. I got my "Aha!" moment right at the time I was ready to hear it, and now I’m right on track.

Read the original blog post here.